Chelsea spent a whole lot of money in the summer, but it’s safe to say that they haven’t exactly had the best return from their investment just yet. High-profile arrivals like Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have both struggled to […]
Chelsea spent a whole lot of money in the summer, but it’s safe to say that they haven’t exactly had the best return from their investment just yet.
High-profile arrivals like Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have both struggled to live up to expectations, but one player whose poor form has flown under the radar somewhat is Hakim Ziyech, the £33.3m man who has contributed to goals in just four of his 19 appearances for the Blues thus far.
After excelling in meetings with Burnley and Sheffield United back in October and November, Ziyech’s form has dropped off massively, and a bitterly disappointing showing in the recent 1-0 win over Barnsley, in which he lost the ball 25 times and completed just 20 passes, signalled a new low for the man known as The Wizard during his time at Ajax.
It was just his second appearance under new manager Thomas Tuchel, who has favoured other options since replacing Frank Lampard, and it’s led to a report suggesting that Ziyech is already considering his future at Stamford Bridge.
That’s about as premature as a report could possibly be. After all, Ziyech started Tuchel’s first game and was then forced out of the squad with an injury. It’s not as if the new boss has immediately decided he hates Ziyech.
It’s obviously not an ideal time to get injured. Tuchel has openly admitted he’s getting to know everyone in his squad, but Ziyech has missed out on that because of his injury. He’s playing catch-up – that’s fair to say.
However, to go far enough as to suggest that Ziyech already wants to leave and Chelsea would even humour an exit right now is ridiculous. Not happening. No chance. The man himself has effectively confirmed that anyway.
“As most know, I always have faith in myself,” he told Ziggo Sport (via The Athletic). “I know what I can do, so I don’t worry too much about that. The real Ziyech will be there.”
Ziyech also told Chelsea’s official website he is ‘feeling good and hungry’, so he quite clearly hasn’t given up just yet. He’s probably a little wary of his lack of minutes under Tuchel (as he is completely entitled to be), but he doesn’t sound like a man who wants out.
Tuchel’s system of two tens actually has the potential to be perfect for Ziyech, who has made a career out of floating around in space and linking midfield to attack. He might have been a winger by definition at Ajax, but his play style was anything but.
He’s at home when drifting to find pockets of space on the pitch, and that’s what Tuchel demands of his two tens. The likes of Mason Mount, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all impressed in that role, but Ziyech is arguably better suited for the role than any of those three.
Granted, in his rare start against Barnsley, he completely blew it, but Ziyech has confessed to be struggling with the pace of the English game. It’s not something he’s used to.
“(The speed of play in the Premier League) is faster than at Ajax,” he continued. “Luckily I picked that up pretty quickly, until I got injured in the first friendly game, which then throws you back all the way. That was a bummer.”
Ziyech is just settling in. Lampard always begged for patience when it came to his new signings, and Tuchel has done the same. Sure, it’s not ideal when £150m of talent doesn’t hit the ground running, but it’s unfair to simply expect an immediate impact from players who don’t know the culture or way of life in a new country.
Ziyech isn’t going anywhere just yet, but he’ll know he needs to start taking his chances if he wants to be a regular starter. Chelsea have too much competition in his position for him to be a passenger.
Having said that, just chill out. Give Ziyech the time literally everyone close to him (himself included) has asked for. He’s too good to struggle forever, and we’ll see the Wizard back to his magical best soon enough.